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Eve Rowlands

The 11 best things I ate in Cardiff in 2022

It's been quite the rollercoaster of a year for Wales' hospitality industry. With more places than we can count on our two hands closing down for various reasons – leases running out, the cost of living crisis, and Covid's knock-on effects – we are lucky with what we have experienced and what we still have when it comes to places to fit our bellies (and hearts) with great food and experiences.

This year has seen the successful opening of restaurants, bars, and sweet treat stops improving Wales' already pretty swell food and drink scene which already plays host to some classic eateries that deliver time and again with good service and great food – all while staring down the barrel of the 'rising cost' gun as energy bills soar.

And so, with this crisis ongoing, it has been imperative for us to pay a visit to local, small independent places who have kept afloat despite these difficult times as well as those who have bravely decided to open up their doors during such a period – kudos to you all. And thank you for providing us with something to look forward to – a warm coffee, a freshly-baked slice of cake, a sarnie that is stuffed to the brim, a burger... the list could go on.

Read more: The best 20 restaurants in Cardiff according to TripAdvisor

So, on that note, I have rounded up some of my firm foodie faves whose treats I have indulged in and whose dishes have had me 'oooh'-ing and 'ahhh'-ing and dreaming about returning so I can do that happy food dance once again. From cheap eats to fine dining I’ve rounded up the best things I’ve eaten in and around my hometown of Cardiff – and a little further afield – over the last 12 months.

If I could I'd have 100 on my list but then you'd be here all day. So, without further ado, my top 11...


Raw garden slaw from Kindle (Eve Rowlands)

When I tell you that I couldn't stop raving about this place the second I left its gates upon enjoying my first meal in this restaurant I am not exaggerating. I told my family, my friends – hell I would have told strangers I met in my path I rated it that highly. Kindle offers small plates whose ingredients are cooked over open flame and is served with natural wines. It has a lovely focus on nature, ethical cooking, and sustainability – it has its own herb and vegetable garden (meaning they are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to veggie dishes) and has had its restaurant built from reclaimed wood.

Situated in Sophia Gardens it is one of Cardiff's newest and most successful restaurants brought to you by the team behind Nook and Dusty's – Phill and Debs Lewis. What's unique about this place is its outdoor seating which, in my opinion, simply adds to its charm and cosiness – even when a gale is blowing (they provide blankets!).

One highlight includes the 'raw garden slaw' which I enjoyed in the summer – they have seasonal menus so sadly this is not available currently. It consisted of a mixture of glorious pesto, carrots, cabbage, and beetroot among other things. It was fresh. It was tangy. It was salty. It was utterly lush. My mouth is watering just thinking about it now. I'd even go as far as to say that it was my favourite meal of the 20s (the 2020s that is).

Where: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

Fire and Flank from Street Food Circus in Roath Yard

Fire and Flank's flame-grilled flank steak (Roath Yard Street Food Circus)

Flash-fried sous-vide steaks cooked to utter perfection (melt-in-your-mouth tender, not chewy, salty but not too much and not too... iron-y for want of a better word) served with homemade chimichurri and seasoned chips, I enjoyed this dish from SFC's Roath Yard event on a sleepy Sunday and I couldn't wait to try it again at the SFC's Merthyr Mawr event a few weeks later. Yep, I went back for seconds and enjoyed it even more as this time, instead of chips, I had deep fried dauphinoise potatoes that were soft, creamy, and had a subtle crunch on the outside and was topped with chimichurri house sauce. Mm mm. While it is currently "hibernating" – as stated by its Instagram – Fire and Flank will be back on the street food scene in the spring.

Masala dosaa from Tukka Tuk Canteen

The Masala Dosaa may look simple but its packs a powerful punch (Eve Rowlands)

While at Merthyr Mawr I also tried one of Tukka Tuk's new dishes from their upcoming restaurant Tukka Tuk Canteen and was blown away. Read more on that here. Tukka Tuk Canteen is the fourth Tukka Tuk project and its first permanent restaurant – and it's planned to open in Cardiff's Whitchurch Road, which has become something of a foodie mecca, towards the end of the year. It follows the success of Tukka Tuk pop-ups at Goodsheds in Barry, Cardiff Market, and Swansea's Founders & Co.

I opted for the masala dosaa which is a crispy rice and lentil pancake stuffed with potato masala and served with a side of coconut chutney and sambhar. The lentil-based south Indian vegetable stew was mild upon first taste and then came the myriad of flavours: heat from cumin, zing from ginger, a nuttiness and slight sweetness from what I believe to be coconut. This curry was fresh and full of warmth and flavour. I can't wait for it to open properly in the coming months.

Brunch from Ground Bakery

Ground Bakery brunch (Eve Rowlands)

Breakfast is quite possibly my favourite meal of the day. And so whenever I get the chance to – and when I want to treat myself (it's not the cheapest) – I pay Ground Bakery a visit for a hearty brunch with a strong black americano. And their classic Ground breakfast is a good place to start – especially when it comes with overnight bacon.

Now when I say that this bacon is the best bacon you will eat just believe me. A signature staple of the bakery, which is co-owned by Cardiff chef Tom Simmons (they've just opened a third in Cowbridge), this bacon is cooked for a number of hours and done so well that when you tuck into it it falls apart in your mouth – it's not chewy, nor burnt, just great. Paired with perfectly poached eggs, garlicky mushrooms and, if you so wish, a sprinkling of beans, you've got yourself a Saturday treat that's worth the late rise.

Where: 15 Pontcanna Street, Pontcanna, or 11b, Royal Buildings, Stanwell Road, Penarth

Hot chocolate from Mrs Potts

(Eve Rowlands)

Winter is upon us which means most people are tucking into a hot choc. And I'd never really been a hot chocolate person – despite my deep, deep two-decade love for the stuff – until I went to Mrs Potts Chocolate House to meet a friend. My reaction when she suggested this place was: 'Ugh, really?' because I was expecting sickly, overly sweet – or plain watery – chocolate-'flavoured' meh. But let me tell you it is not in the slightest.

It's thick without being claggy. It's smooth without being watery. And, with a dollop of marshmallow fluff that's been blow-torched for toastiness, it's the ultimate indulgence. You can choose your chocolate strength too. More of a white chocolate fan? They've got it. Straight-up 100% dark chocolate more your thing? They have that too. Vegan? Covered.

And if you want to be extra indulgent they have cookie sandwiches and triple layer cakes – one pays homage to Bruce Bogtrotter's favourite, chocolate fudge cake, as featured in Matilda – that look insane.

Where: 109 St Mary Street, Cardiff

Doughnuts from Cardiff Dough and Co

Mars bar doughnut from Cardiff Dough and Co (Eve Rowlands)
This right here is a Mars bar doughnut from local doughnut shop Cardiff Dough and Co. Think caramelly goodness. Chocolatey heaven. And dough-lightful...(sorry)

Owned by Ash and Rachael Parfitt, Cardiff Dough and Co makes handcrafted two-day proved doughnuts in a creative range of ever-changing flavours. The pair launched the business during lockdown in 2020 and since starting their delicious business, have secured a unit in Rumney, a travelling doughnut van (called the yeast beast) and a three-month unit in The Hayes.

Where: Unit 13 Wentloog Buildings, Rumney, and The Hayes, Cardiff

Sarnie from Bombers

(Eve Rowlands)

My most recent sandwich from this INCREDIBLE sandwich shop is that of their Christmas special. Filled to the brim (of its overflowing bun) with turkey, stuffing, pigs in blankets, potatoes, broccoli, and gravy, this sandwich shop is one to try if you are needing some sustenance to keep you going.

It’s only a little shop but boy is it busy – there is nearly always a queue out the door because there is plenty of choice of some amazingly generous sandwiches. The bread is made by a local baker and they make their own sauces. The meat is tender, flavoursome, and cooked fresh every morning and there are always at least four different meat fillings every day.

Where: 41 Charles Street, Cardiff

Sourdough from Ty Melin

If I could eat just one bread for the rest of my life this – Ty Melin's house sourdough – is the bread I would choose. Airy, light, tangy, flavourful, soft... slather some butter on there for a simple snack and I am a very happy woman.

Where: Bayscape, Cardiff

Salad from Sage Deli

(Sage Deli / Instagram)

This will forever be my lunch time go-to when a sandwich just won't cut it. This jam-packed salad box allows you five items plus a topping to munch down on. And it's always service with a smile regardless of how busy it is. My go-to is hummus (a giant dollop of it), lettuce leaves (you have to have a base), beetroot, lentils, cucumber, and tomato, sometimes with their spicy potatoes and pulled pork to top it off – with a drizzle of balsamico. And it's only £4.95. You're welcome.

Where: Central Market, Cardiff

Smoothie bowl from Mother Nature

Mother Nature smoothie bowl (Eve Rowlands)

Fancying something fresh, cold, and sweet for breakfast? This smoothie bar in Penarth has juices, salads, and smoothies – as well as decadent smoothie bowls – served to you by the most refreshing and upbeat personality in its owner. A bright smile and the dose of antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins you are about to consume are sure to put a healthy pep in your step.

This açai smoothie bowl also features a dollop of peanut/almond butter, granola, and coconut on top. Healthy doesn't mean boring my friends. Far from it.

Where: Unit 9, Windsor Arcade, Penarth

Sushi Life

Sushi Life's Tokyo platter provides a combination of their best maki rolls (Eve Rowlands)

This restaurant in Wellfield Road may be small and unassuming but boy does it do incredible sushi. I paid it a visit earlier this year – read about my experience here – and was blown away by the Tokyo platter which consisted of 24 pieces of mixed maki rolls: California maki, cut the crab maki, hell in the kitchen maki, prawn tempura maki, green dragon maki, and red dragon maki. For a hefty portion of flavourful and colourful sushi that will have you doing the happy food dance visit this place which earlier this year was nominated for Restaurant of the Year in the UK's first ever Uber Eats awards.

Where: The Globe Centre, 5 Wellfield Road, Cardiff


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